Frequently Asked Questions
What is the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program (CHIRP)? +
On February 5, 2021 Governor Wolf signed into law legislation (Act 1 of 2021) that set aside $145 million in funds to aid hospitality industry businesses adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It requires that counties establish grant programs for eligible businesses through a Certified Economic Development Organization (CEDO) or Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI).Luzerne County has approved CAN DO, Inc. and Wilkes Barre Industrial Fund, the designated CEDO’s for Luzerne County, to administer this grant program. A significant portion of the eligibility criteria and requirements of this program are dictated by what was included in the law and the requirements set forth in the Fiscal Code.
Is the CHIRP awarding grants or loans? +The CHIRP program is a grant that does not have to be paid back. The funding was distributed to communities to assist impacted hospitality businesses with revenue loss and paying eligible operating expenses.
What is the total CHIRP size? +$145 million in funds was distributed across Pennsylvania based upon population calculation. For Luzerne County, $3,595,181 is available to hospitality businesses in amounts ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 – in increments of $5,000. Funds are also available to cover administrative fees associated with oversite of the grant program to the CEDO(s) administering grant funds.
When will CHIRP funding be available? Who will be eligible? +
We anticipate the Luzerne County online application portal will be open from March 15th to April 5th . Luzerne County-based private (not publicly traded) for-profit entities meeting the following criteria may apply:
- Are you a public traded company?
- Was your business in operation as of February 15, 2020?
- Does your business operate in the Commonwealth of PA (and Luzerne County) and have a NAICS designation of 721 or 722?
- Entities must have sustained a minimum annual revenue decline of 25% or quarterly revenue loss of 25% or greater in any quarter when comparing quarterly revenue between 2019-2020.
- If the business started between July 1 and December 31, 2019, Quarter 3 or Quarter 4 revenue of 2019 must show at least a 25% decline compared to any quarter in 2020.
- If the business started between January 1 and February 15, 2020, the entity must demonstrate at least a 25% revenue decline when comparing the first quarter of 2020 to any other quarter in 2020.
- Do you have fewer than 300 full-time equivalent employees? ("Full-time equivalent employee." Is obtained by dividing the total number of hours for which employees were compensated for employment over the preceding 12-month period by 2,080.)
- Is your business’s maximum tangible net worth of no more than $15 million?
- Are you applying to another county’s COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program? If so, where?
- What will the funds be used for?
- Working capital, payroll, mortgage obligation; rent; and utilities
- Have you already received a loan or grant from the Federal Government or Commonwealth? If so, you must select the source of previously received funding:
- SBA EIDL
- SBA EIDL cash advance
- Luzerne County COVID-19 Grant Program through Penn’s Northeast
Pennsylvania State COVID-19 Grant Program through the CDFI network (Metroaction)
- CWCA loan (COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program) through locally associated CEDO (CAN DO, Greater Wyoming Valley Chamber of Chamber/Wilkes-Barre Industrial Fund, NEPA Alliance)
- Was your business subject to closure as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic emergency disaster declaration and any extensions thereof? (includes the most recent closures from December 2020 to January 2021)
- Passive businesses (such as commercial and residential landlords) are ineligible.
- Grant awards may not be used to pay the same eligible operating expenses for which an eligible business received payment, reimbursement, or loan forgiveness from the CARES Act of 2020, Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, or the COVID-19 Emergency Supplement to the General Appropriations Act of 2019. Receipt of a prior Federal Government or Commonwealth grant does not disqualify an applicant.
- Businesses must agree to a certification (Appendix C of What Do I Need to Prepare for the Luzerne County COVID-19 Hospitality industry Recovery Program? Documents) and submit required forms.
What can grant funds be used for? +
Funds can be used for payroll and non-payroll expenses that are both ordinary and necessary. An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted in an eligible applicant’s industry. A necessary expense is one that is helpful and appropriate for an eligible applicant’s trade or business. The operating expense must have been incurred between March1, 2020, to June 15, 2021, or before submission of an application, whichever occurs first.
Examples include, but are not limited to, rent, mortgage, supplies, inventory, and other operating expenses (which can include costs associated with public health-related retrofit) needed to help the entity serve or produce goods relevant in today’s economy.
For rent, lease, or mortgage payments, the obligation must have been in force before February 15, 2020. A mortgage or lease agreement in force before February 15, 2020, that was refinanced or restructure after February 15, 2020, is deemed in force and is still eligible. For utility costs, the service must have begun before February 15, 2020.
Is there enough funding to meet the need? +
Available funds are limited and high demand is anticipated therefore applicants are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. With that said, grants will be awarded on a priority basis as outlined in Act 1 2021 and not first come first serve.
When will the applications process open? +
Businesses may apply at www.luzernehospitalitygrants.org beginning Monday, March 15th , 2021 at 12:01 a.m. Before that, specific information about how to apply is available on the site. This will give applicants adequate time to gather necessary documentation.
How long will the application portal be open? +
The portal will be open from 12:01 a.m. on March 15, 2021, to 5 p.m. on April 9, 2021.
What is the process for applying? +
All applicants MUST apply online at www.luzernehospitalitygrants.org to facilitate processing. Use of the portal reduces the potential for errors and omissions potentially resulting in an ineligible application.
May I fill out a paper application? +
No, paper applications will not be available for the CHIRP grant program.
Will telephone assistance be available if I have questions about eligibility or required documents for the application? +
Applicants in need of assistance in ensuring an accurate and complete submission should consult a local accountant and/or utilize resources such as the Wilkes University Small Business Development Center. Their information can be found on the program website. Additionally, local chambers of commerce will have access to information regarding the application process.
Will the application be available in multiple languages? Will there be technical assistance available for non-English speakers, as well? +
The application, FAQ, and “What is Needed to Apply” documents will be readily available in Spanish. Technical assistance for Spanish-speaking applicants will be provided by Wilkes University Small Business Development Center as well as the Greater Hazleton Chamber of Commerce.
Can I save my application and come back to it later? +
Applications will be saved automatically when using the same device by clicking save at the bottom of the application screen. To complete a previously worked-on application, return to the application on the same device and the information will be stored.
Who is eligible? +
Per Act 1 of 2021, eligible applicants are private (not publicly traded) for-profit entities that operate in Luzerne County whose full-time equivalent employee count was 300 or fewer during calendar year 2019 and who has less than a $15 million tangible net worth. The Act also states that the only eligible applicants are those with a NAICS designation within the Accommodation subsector (721) or Food Services and Drinking Places subsector (722)
If I have received other funding assistance, can I still receive grant funding through the CHIRP? +
Yes. If your business received other federal, state, or local loans or grants you are still eligible to apply, however, applicants MUST disclose their previously received funding. This includes, but is not limited to, EIDL, EIDL Cash Advance, PPP, Statewide Small Business Assistance, and/or the County Recovery & Sustainability Fund.
My business has multiple locations in Luzerne County. May I apply more than once? +
No. You may only submit one application for that business entity. Applications are submitted based on the Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) or Social Security Number of the entity.
May I submit an application if I have business locations in multiple counties? +
Yes, you may apply if you operate in multiple counties, but you may only receive one grant from the program statewide (i.e., you cannot accept grants from multiple counties). If you are applying within the Luzerne County program, you must have a physical operating location in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.
If I own more than one business (including common ownership of several entities among a small number of people), am I allowed to apply for each business individually or should I apply as a group? +
Each entity operating under a separate Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) or Social Security Number (SSN) is considered an eligible applicant.
As a franchisee, may I submit an application? +
Yes. However, an eligible franchisee applicant must have a physical operating location in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, and must have an FTE of 300 or fewer companywide during 2019. All funds awarded must be used for costs incurred in Luzerne County facilities and operations only. Franchisees should count the total number of employees under an individual FEIN or SSN as their total headcount.
May I apply these grant funds against costs that were used to claim forgiveness under another grant or loan program (e.g., PPP loan)? +
No. Funds received under this grant program may not be applied against any costs that were also used to satisfy the requirements of another grant or loan program.
Is there a limit on the amount of grant funds that can be used for owner compensation or other payments to owners or entities related by common ownership (e.g., related party rent)? +
Grant funds may NOT be used for owner compensation. Grant funds can be used to pay rent to related parties for leases in existence prior to February 15, 2020.
If I own a passive business am I eligible to apply? +
No, passive businesses such as commercial and residential landlords are ineligible.
Can I apply if my business had a loss on its 2019 tax return? +
Yes. A Luzerne County based business that employees 300 or fewer employees and had a loss on its 2019 tax return can apply for a grant.
I’m a new business that started in 2020, can I apply? +
If your business was started between January 1 and February 15, 2020, you are eligible, but the entity must demonstrate at least a 25% revenue decline when comparing the first quarter of 2020 to any other quarter in 2020. Additionally, you would need to supply a 2020 internal company prepared financial statements or 2020 completed federal tax return, whichever is available, to substantiate your application inputs. If your business was started after February 15, 2020, it would not be eligible.
What information will I need to gather to submit a grant request? +
At this time, the necessary information to complete the application is:
1. Business Information
- Entity Legal Name
- Physical Address of Business including county
- State date of business
- Type of Business structure
- Sole Proprietor, C/S Corporation, Partnership, Single Member LLC (C/S/P)
- Business Phone Number
- Business Email
- Number of Full-time equivalent employees
- Full-time equivalent employee." Is obtained by dividing the total number of hours for which employees were compensated for employment over the preceding 12-month period by 2,080.)
2. Business Owner Information – Anyone with 20% or more ownership in the business is subject to providing this information within the same application.
- Full Legal Name
- Residential address including county
- Percent of Ownership in the operating business
- Phone number
3. Financial Information
- Grant Application Financial Information needed:
- Quarterly Internal Profit & Loss statement or quarterly gross receipts statement for 2019
- Quarterly Internal Profit & Loss statement or quarterly gross receipts statement for 2020"Gross receipts." Revenue in whatever form received or accrued, in accordance with the entity's accounting method, from whatever source, including from the sales of products or services, interest, dividends, rents, royalties, fees or commissions, reduced by returns and allowances. The term does not include the following: (1) taxes collected for and remitted to a taxing authority if included in gross or total income, such as sales or other taxes collected from customers and excluding taxes levied on the concern or its employees; (2) proceeds from transactions between a concern and its domestic or foreign affiliates; and (3) amounts collected for another by a travel agent, real estate agent, advertising agent or conference management service provider.
- 2019 Federal Tax Returns
- 2020 12-month company prepared internal financial statement or completed 2020 federal Tax Returns, whichever is available Form W-9 (Rev. October 2018) (irs.gov)
For purposes of determining my number of employees, do I use headcount or the full-time equivalents? +
The Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) employee count is calculated by taking the total hours compensated for all employees throughout the year and dividing it by 2080.
For employee headcount, is it just permanent full-time and part-time employees? I utilize sub-contractors or do seasonal/job-specific hiring. Do I count them? +
Employee FTE includes full time and part time employees’ hours for which the entity will issue a form W-2. Third party subcontractors are not included in headcount.
Is the owner included in the hours count? +
Yes, if the owner works in the business.
My NAICS code on my tax return doesn’t accurately reflect my impacted business activity, what should I do to demonstrate I’m in a targeted industry? +
Act 1 of 2021 requires that the only eligible applicants be those with a NAICS designation within the Accommodation subsector (721) or Food Services and Drinking Places subsector (722) and where accommodations, food, or drink is served to or provided for the public, with or without charge. This is written in the legislation and we do not have the authority to accept other NAICS codes.
Will my information be publicly released? +
Luzerne County will receive a full list of all businesses that applied for funding, including those who are not recommended for a funding award.
Funding recipients and award amounts will become public information upon approval. Proprietary business and financial information submitted with the application will not be public information.
Luzerne County will be required to complete a report at the conclusion of the program to be submitted to the PA Department of Community & Economic Development containing the following information: list of each grant awarded under the program; name and address of each grant recipient; amount of the grant and description of the financial impact of the awarded grantee; and the name of the CEDO that processed the grant (CAN DO, Inc. and Wilkes-Barre Industrial Fund).
Will I receive a grant if my application is incomplete, or contains errors? +
No. A grant will not be awarded if the application is incomplete, not properly executed, contains erroneous information or lacks proper documentation. Only full, complete and accurate applications will be considered. Applications with technical errors or without the required back-up documentation will be removed from the applicant pool and deemed ineligible. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure the application is complete and accurate.
Where can I see what I will need to certify to? +
How will application be evaluated? +
Application will be evaluated based one two criteria: 1. Does the application meet the basic program requirements? 2. Application will then be evaluated based on priority as outline in Act 1, 2021 which are as follow: Has not already received a loan or a grant from the Federal Government or Commonwealth; Can demonstrate a revenue reduction of at least 50% for the period beginning after March 31, 2020, and ending before December 31, 2020, in comparison to the period beginning after March 31, 2019, and ending before December 31, 2019; and was subject to closure by the disaster emergency and any extensions thereof. (Includes most recent closure from December 2020 to January 2021).
Who will disburse the funds? +
Fund will be disbursed by the Certificated Economic Development Organization (CEDO) that represents the geographic location in which the applicant is located.
If I am approved, what type of documentation will be required to receive the funds? +
Before receiving grant funds, the applicant will receive correspondence via email from the CEDO requiring the applicant to electronically execute a formal grant agreement and return to the designated CEDO as soon as possible before funds can be disbursed. If the signed grant agreement is not received by the designated CEDO within 48 hours, the CEDO may interpret unresponsiveness as the applicant forfeiting their approval for funding, thus potentially not receiving grant funds.
After receiving grant funds, will I need to provide documentation to prove that the funds were used for their intended purpose? +
Awardees may be required to complete a brief close-out report to outline final use of funds and outcomes from fund utilization.
Are awarded funds taxable income? +
Please consult your accountant or other business advisors for information related to taxation.